I wanted to share my latest obsession. It’s something really hard but oh-so-nice. It’s about my default state. The state that I gravitate towards as any particular action, piece of work or thought has been completed.

Can you guess what it is?

It’s nothing.

Doing nothing as a default state is my new aspiration. Waking up, nothing. Having spoken, nothing. Being done, nothing. Nothingness is my new go-to.

What the heck am I rambling about?

We all have our defaults. For most of my life, my default has been to create something new. To drive to the next shiny goal, to look ahead and to always be progressing. Being done for me has meant that I now have the time to create something new… right away!

I don’t want to continue with that behavior anymore. I’m now in a stage in my life where I’m maintaining a lot of things I’ve already built. A life, a family, a company, a set of processes, habits, relationships. All of them require upkeep. If my default is to keep creating or pushing forward, I won’t be successful in maintaining what I have.

It’s also about health. This world is so full of things that distract me and want my attention… so gravitating towards nothing is a way to combat the urge to indulge in whatever comes my way. It’s about keeping my focus.

So how do I know when I’m in my state of nothingness? It’s when I’m not doing anything. I’m not acting on anything. I just sit down, and default to “no action”. I default to saying “no” to everything.

I keep a list of 4 things that may take me out of nothingness:

  • The situation requires it
  • My current objectives need it
  • I really feel like it
  • Someone requests something of me

Everything else is a “no”.

This notably includes:

  • Something happens around me, that I actually don’t care about
  • Someone did something, but nobody really asked me to do anything about it
  • Someone is thinking out loud, but didn’t really ask me of anything
  • Something occurred which is really confusing, but doesn’t really matter
  • etc

All of this should now trigger “non-action” in me.

This is particularly useful in a distributed organization, where all the information and communication is instantly available and wants to be read. It’s like a force that pulls you in. As a leader of a company, it’s then very easy to be reactive to anything that goes on that seems to need fixing. Instead, defaulting to nothing (or “no action” in this case) is a much, much better default. Because why am I the one to fix it? And would the results be if I were to go around just trying to fix things?

And this is why it let’s me succeed at work. I do this so that I can focus on the things that matter, instead of being reactive or constantly stepping on the gas with new things.

I’ll let you know how it goes 🖖